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Layups: Kevin Arnovitz on the Las Vegas Summer League

Posted by Neil Paine on July 12, 2010

In case you haven't been following the action on NBA TV, TrueHoop's Kevin Arnovitz has done a great job of recapping the events of the 2010 Las Vegas Summer League. Check out his posts:

Posted in Layups, Offseason | Comments Off

Redeem Team Stats

Posted by Neil Paine on July 12, 2010

Many commenters have asked for this, especially in light of the fact that 1/4 of the Redeem Team are "taking their talents to South Beach" next season, so I thought some stats from the 2008 Olympics were in order. All I have is the USA page right now, though hopefully I'll be able to add other teams from the Beijing games at some point in the near future.

2008 United States Men’s Basketball Statistics

Olympic Tournament Summary

If the Redeem Team numbers are informative about the LeBron James/Dwyane Wade dynamic, Wade will be the bigger possession user (he led James 27.7% to 23.6% in terms of possessions used on the floor in the Olympics), while James will have the ball in his hands and be a facilitator (he led Wade in touches/minute, 1.33 to 1.21, and his pass/shot breakdown on touches was 59%/28% vs. Wade's 43%/34%). This aligns with the commentators who predict James will become the 21st-century version of Magic Johnson alongside his new Heat teammates.

Of course, the Redeem Team used Wade off the bench while James started, so a portion of those stats were accumulated with only one of the two in the game. Still, the general trend could hold, since they did play at least a third of their minutes together.

Posted in Analysis, International Basketball, Statgeekery | 79 Comments »

Fantasy Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Kevin Johnson, Class of 2010

Posted by Neil Paine on July 12, 2010

Back in early May, I conducted a poll asking readers t0 vote on who should be inducted into the inaugural Fantasy Basketball Hall of Fame class, and you responded very well, registering almost 1,000 votes. According to the rules of the HoF (based on the Baseball Hall of Fame process), a player had to be named on 75% of ballots to be inducted, which left us with two players (2 point guards, actually): Kevin Johnson, and Tim Hardaway. Tim Bug will get his ceremony later in the summer, but today I think we'll give KJ the love he deserves as a charter member of the FBHoF...

Kevin Maurice "K.J." Johnson
Position: Point Guard
Height: 6-1 Weight: 180 lbs.
Born: March 4, 1966 in Sacramento, California
High School: Sacramento in Sacramento, California
College: University of California
Draft: Selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1st round (7th pick, 7th overall) of the 1987 NBA draft.

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Posted in Fantasy Basketball, Hall of Fame, Just For Fun | 6 Comments »

The LeBron Rant

Posted by Neil Paine on July 9, 2010

Basketball is all about sharing, about unselfishness, about legends like Bill Russell doing whatever it takes to win. But apparently it's also about who has the bigger... um, contract.

You see, all we heard these past few days was whether LeBron and D-Wade could co-exist as "Alpha Males", or that LBJ joining Wade in Miami is supposedly something a true "Alpha Male" (ostensibly referring to Kobe or MJ) would never do... It's curious that this hyper-macho view of basketball first began to emerge less than two decades ago, though. Like a commenter said yesterday, the Michael Jordan era was so transformative that we may very well have have convinced ourselves that the MJ-Pippen formula (and the Alpha-Beta designations contained therein) is the only way to view the game. Heck, Bill Simmons even wrote a 700-page book that revises the entirety of NBA history to match that ultramasculine theory of basketball.

Yet in those same pages Simmons also extolled the virtues of "The Secret", which is allegedly about sacrificing numbers, money, and individual glory for team success... Well, isn't what LeBron did last night the living embodiment of The Secret, leaving millions on the table and turning himself into a hometown villain, all for the sake of winning? If Vince Lombardi was right and "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing", then LeBron made the only rational decision last night. But the dirty secret of commentators like Simmons is that winning by itself is not good enough -- you apparently also have to win while simultaneously vanquishing the idea of another male rival sharing your spotlight, because god forbid that another Alpha could possibly question your hoops authority when you're doing all that winning.

Oh, but I forgot, basketball is the ultimate team game, and it's all about sacrificing stats and glory for championships, right?

I guess this LeBron situation provides the ultimate opportunity for people to put their money where their cliches have been all these years.

Posted in No Math Required, Offseason, Rants & Ramblings | 281 Comments »

The James-Wade-Bosh Big Three, Part III: Expected W-L

Posted by Neil Paine on July 8, 2010

"Miami Thrice," they're calling it, and it would be perhaps the most impressive collection of individual superstars ever assembled on a single team. What seemed incredibly unlikely at the start of the free agent period is actually looking more than possible now, as reports claim LeBron James is "leaning towards" joining Dwyane Wade and the newly-signed Chris Bosh in South Beach to create a megateam of historic proportions.

But here's the question: if this trio gets together, what kind of damage can we expect this wrecking crew to inflict on the rest of the NBA? ESPN's John Hollinger weighed in with a PER-based analysis a week ago (he said Wade + Bosh + James + 10 replacement level ballers = 61 wins), but his system also dramatically underrated what the 2008 Celtics would do (he said 51 wins -- and I said 48, btw, so he didn't have a monopoly on being wrong), and that's the most recent example of a similar 3-star amalgamation.

In fact, the only method that correctly ballparked the C's greatness? Adjusted and/or Statistical Plus-Minus. So let's see what those systems see in the cards for a team with James, Wade, Bosh, and a bunch of nobodies.

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Posted in Analysis, Insane ideas, Offseason, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 35 Comments »

Wade-Bosh, and Other Wing-Big Combos

Posted by Neil Paine on July 7, 2010

Last week I looked at the possibility of a LeBron James-Dwyane Wade "Big Two", as well as a James-Wade-Chris Bosh "Big Three", and now it looks like a Bosh-Wade combo is going to happen at the very least (whether it includes LeBron or not is still an open question). Wade & Bosh combined for 63.3 % of their teams' possessions last season, so let's look at other newly-formed Wing/Big combos from the past to see if they're the highest-usage inside-outside duo ever put together.

The rules:

  • The combo must consist of 1 "Big" (C, PF) and 1 "Wing" (SG, SF).
  • The combo had to play at least 500 minutes during both the season in question and the year before.
  • The combo must include at least 1 player who wasn't on the team the year before.

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Posted in Analysis, Offseason, Statgeekery, Win Shares | 18 Comments »

Layups: The Game Theory of Foul Subs

Posted by Neil Paine on July 6, 2010

I didn't see this back in April, but an econ blog called The Leisure of the Theory Class had several posts about the underlying philosophy behind benching players who are in "foul trouble":

Foul Trouble

Foul Follow-Up

ESPN's Eamonn Brennan also had a reaction here. The basic premise (one which I happen to strongly agree with) is that by benching a player on pace to foul out before the end of the game, a coach has voluntarily exacted the very same penalty -- not being able to use the player -- that he's afraid of having happen if the player fouls out. In other words, the coach is so afraid of something that might happen at the end of the game (Player X getting his 6th foul), he's willing to guarantee that the player doesn't play a certain amount of time in the middle of the game -- often more time than the player would have missed if he had not been subbed out!

Obviously, there are more complexities to the argument than that, so you should read both posts (and the comments). But the core idea remains that coaches: 1) overestimate the "risk" of leaving a star in, 2) overvalue the final minutes of the game at the expense of minutes in quarters 1-3, and consequently 3) give themselves a harsher penalty in the middle of the game than the one they're afraid of the referees giving them in the 4th quarter.

Posted in Insane ideas, Layups, Rants & Ramblings | 26 Comments »

Layups: ESPN’s 2010 Ultimate Team Standings

Posted by Neil Paine on July 4, 2010

Every year, ESPN releases its "Ultimate Standings", a ranking that measures "how much MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them." This year, the top NBA team is the Orlando Magic (#2 overall behind the NFL's Saints), who also came in as their #1 overall franchise in "Bang for the Buck" (wins per fan-related revenue). Other NBA teams of note were the Spurs (#7 overall), Cavs (#10 overall), Mavs (#24 overall), and Thunder (#25 overall). To see the whole list, click here.

Posted in Layups | Comments Off

Layups: Updates From LeBron James’ Facebook Newsfeed

Posted by Neil Paine on July 2, 2010

From Slate: "LeBron James is no longer in a relationship"...

(H/T: Ball Don't Lie)

Posted in Just For Fun, Layups, Offseason | Comments Off

How Much Would Losing LeBron James Hurt the Cavaliers?

Posted by Neil Paine on July 2, 2010

As I watched Byron Scott's introductory press conference as head coach of the Cavs, the spectre of LeBron James' free agency hung over the proceedings (and justifiably so). Scott is a fine coach and has been successful in New Jersey & New Orleans, but I wonder what he could possibly be getting himself into -- I mean, Brian Shaw was reportedly Cleveland's first choice, but in the end he couldn't commit to the team without knowing James would be back. That's looking like a smart move, because now the unenviable question facing Scott is this: if James is gone, can the Cavs even be close to competitive without The King?

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Posted in Analysis, Offseason, Statgeekery, Statistical +/-, Win Shares | 8 Comments »

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